Lowering blood pressure may help cut risk of early dementia, study finds

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By Shamard Charles, M.D.

Drastically lowering blood pressure may help protect memory and thinking skills later in life, researchers reported Monday — the first hopeful sign that it’s possible to lower rates of mental decline.

The large blood pressure study looked at more than 9,000 people over the age of 50 years old found that those who lowered their blood pressure to 120 — the top number, or systolic blood pressure — were 19 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, the loss of memory and brain processing power that usually precedes Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the study, called Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

It has long been known that aggressively lowering blood pressure can benefit those at high risk for heart disease, but this is the first time that the intervention has been shown to also help brain health.

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